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Music and food and vendors, oh my!

Annual Detroit Jazz Fest keeps growing

Puakea Olaisha Anderson
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — For over 30 years jazz enthusiasts worldwide have enjoyed great music, great food and great vendors at the annual Detroit Jazz Festival held Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit. This year, for the 33rd Annual DJF, the festival was the largest its ever been, stretching from Woodward Avenue, where it covered three full blocks including Campus Martius, to the Riverwalk, where hundreds of thousands gathered in Hart Plaza.

Over 50 renowned jazz artists performed this year during the four-day holiday weekend, including Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Belgrave and Wynton Marsalis and many more.

Jazz lovers say the festivities are only getting bigger and better.

“The thing that I like most about the Jazz Fest is the different sorts of artist from around the state and local artists,” said William Simmons. “I (also) like the atmosphere and activities.” Simmons and friend Leo Anderson have been attending the DJF for more than 20 years.

“Jazz is a Black thing,” Anderson told the Michigan Citizen. “It’s a historical thing. You see some of the greatest artists in the world down here.”

The Jazz Fest was founded in 1980 by Robert McCabe and the Detroit Renaissance and has since grown to be one of the largest international jazz festivals and a Labor Day tradition for many.

Rev. Brenda J. Dixon and her family have made the Jazz Fest a part of their family’s Labor Day tradition for more than five years. Dixon, a 40-year Jazz lover, traveled from Oakwood Village, Ohio with her husband and family to enjoy the weekend festivities. “I see the festival getting bigger and bigger. It was more people here this year than last year. I love the way Detroit takes care of their downtown, it’s clean,” said Dixon.

Not only has the jazz crowd grown, so has the number of vendors. A number of local vendors had a noticeable presence this year.

“I’ve been a vendor at the Jazz Fest for two years,” said Tyrone Dickey of Stef n Ty hat and clothing line, now based in Detroit. “I love the crowd that comes down here, the international people who come here as well. I love this Jazz Festival … It’s a beautiful thing.”

The Detroit Jazz Fest is more than a four-day weekend concert; it’s a 365-days-a-year musical outreach.

For more information, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com

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